Trustee, alumnus dies while bodysurfing on vacation

Benjamin Most

Trustee Norman Sprague ’65 died March 14 while bodysurfing in Costa Rica.

Sprague began working as a trustee at Harvard School in 1981 and helped during the merger between Harvard and Westlake School for Girls.

“It was a contentious time for both schools, and Dr. Sprague’s steady hand on the tiller made a big difference to the early success of Harvard-Westlake,” President Rick Commons said.

Sprague was a trustee at several schools, including Harvard-Westlake, the Cate School and Harvey Mudd College. He also served on the Board of Trustees at the California Nature Conservancy, The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the Good Samaritan Hospital, the Founders league of the Music Center and the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center.

An orthopedic surgeon, Sprague pioneered arthroscopic surgery and taught the technique around the world.

Sprague also helped found the Arthroscopy Association of North America and chaired the International Seminar on Operative Arthroscopy for 14 consecutive years.

Sprague was an avid biker, hiker, backpacker, skier, guitar player and swimmer. He enjoyed rock climbing and reached the summit of the Grand Teton in Jackson Hole, Wyo. six times. He also flew planes recreationally.

Sprague’s wife, Marianne, and their six children and six grandchildren survive him.

Sprague’s family named Harvard-Westlake as a beneficiary to accept gifts in his memory, and the school plans on establishing a fund for him.

“The lasting memory I will have of him is the way his children spoke about him,” Commons said. “They described his gentleness, his sense of humor and his unusual commitment to his family.”